How does your day start when you’re in the kitchen?
I am always the first in, so I make myself a cup of tea, do the paperwork, invoices etc, then wait for the Chefs to arrive and shake their hands. I always shake their hands when they arrive and when they leave at the end of the night — its something I’ve always done.
What is your earliest memory of being interested in food?
Growing up in the countryside in the Isle of Man, I was always surrounded by amazing food. I remember going down to the docks in Peel and Port Erin to look at that day’s catch. I have to admit, I had a great childhood. I always knew I wanted to cook, so as soon as I could I left school and took a diploma at catering college.
Can you describe your culinary style in a few words?
Honest, flavoursome, authentic — not traditional!
Have your travels influenced the style of your cooking?
Completely. Travel opens the mind to new experiences and flavours. I’ve lived in the Middle East on and off for over ten years, so I have quite a good palate for the flavours of this area – ideal for Qbara. I’ve blended my love for middle eastern flavours with the memories and recollections I have from other countries, which has resulted in the unique fare that’s offered at Qbara today. I’m not reinventing anything here, just tweaking it a little, presenting it differently and giving people something a little different to look at and to think about.
You’re originally from the Isle of Man in the UK. What made you make the move to Dubai?
I have always had a passion for travel and luckily this job has allowed me to travel the world. I have worked in many countries but I chose Dubai more for the job than the location. I was part of the opening team at the Burj al Arab in 1999. I’ve also since met my wife Farah and have had my children here. I’m very fond of Dubai.
What experience do you hope to give your guests dining at Qbara?
I want our guests to experience something of Dubai itself — modern, progressive, visually amazing but with a very traditional heart and soul. The modern face of the Middle East as it were.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
There have been many! Winning Best New Restaurant and Best Restaurant awards both in Dubai, Singapore and London have been great achievements but I’m proudest when I hear from chefs that I’ve worked with in the past who have also gone on to do bigger and better things. I’m proud to have worked with so many amazing people throughout my career.
If you could take a plane ride to anywhere in the world, just for one meal, where would it be and why?
Peru is the next country I want to visit and while I’m there I definitely want to go to Astrid y Gaston in Lima. I have even earmarked Machu Picchu for my 50th birthday and to dine at Gastón Acurio restaurant would top it off nicely!
Sheikh Rashid Rd
United Arab Emirates